The sun emitted a significant solar flare on Monday. This flare is classified as an X4.9-class flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength (an X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc).

Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation, appearing as giant flashes of light in Nasa's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) images. Although harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, it can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

Nasa's SDO, which keeps a constant watch on the sun, captured images of the event. The SDO satellite was launched in February 2010 and is expected to observe the behaviour of the sun for five years. In this gallery, we look at some of the most spectacular images captured and sent back to Earth.